Be Your Own Birder

GQ GQ. Where Are You?

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  • Author: Sharon I. Ritt (illustrated by Nadia Komorova)
  • Publisher: Five Star Publications, Inc. (Little Five Star division)
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Pages: 40

Be Your Own Birder’s Thoughts

Many picture books use fanciful tales of talking animals to inspire children, but GQ GQ. Where Are You? is inspiring with real information about a colorful bird species, the Gambel’s quail. The book follows Georgy’s explorations on one fine day in the Sonoran Desert, including foods he snacks on, animal playmates he meets, and predators and other threats he needs to avoid. Though the text is simple and its rhythmic meter can be awkward for simple reading, the vocabulary is appropriate to young readers without oversimplifying the necessary context.

Author Sharon I. Ritt is not only a former elementary teacher with extensive reading program experience, but she is also an accomplished storyteller and singer. She brings those skills to great use with the book’s accompanying CD, which includes tracks for both read-a-long and sing-a-long versions. The read-a-long track has no background noise other than a few quail calls, but there is a basic tone to indicate the proper time to turn pages. The sing-a-long track features a basic but lovely piano tune and the book sung to the tune of “Frère Jacques” – an ideal choice familiar to young readers that can encourage them to follow along in a fun and engaging way. Brief introductory and conclusion tracks are also part of the CD, but the total run time of all four tracks is just 10 minutes, so young readers do not get distracted or lost.

The book’s most remarkable feature is how it goes far beyond GQ’s simple story. Pages 27-33 are filled with supplementary information about the native desert plants and wildlife mentioned in the book, including fun trivia and more detail than in the basic story.

In addition to expanded information, a short section of suggested activities offers ways parents or teachers can encourage young readers to learn more about Gambel’s quail and other desert plants and animals. A variety of activities are suggested and include options for writing, drawing, research, and other educational skills.

The book’s illustrations have a soft, cuddly focus and are brightly colorful, ideal to capture the interest and imagination of young readers. The details are accurate and paint a complete picture of the various desert scenes, without being overwhelming or distracting. Additional desert birds are also pictured throughout the story, including the white-winged dove, northern cardinals, and the Bullock’s oriole, though no supplemental information for those species is included in the reference section and their full names are not mentioned in the text.

Many children’s picture books are entertaining, but few are richly informative. GQ, GQ. Where Are You? is both, with a sweet story of a young quail, supplemental information about the Sonoran desert, colorful illustrations, and suggested activities for further enrichment. This charming book should have a place of honor on any young reader’s bookshelf and is sure to help inspire their interest in all birds.

Worth Reading? Yes – 9.8/10!

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